“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.’ But Simon answered and said, ‘Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.’”
The apostles went down to Samaria for the purpose of investigation. Peter and John pray that they might receive the Holy Spirit; that the Samaritans might have exactly what the Jews had. Peter and John were totally relaxed about the Samaritans despite the Jewish prejudice, and the thing that relaxes is Bible doctrine. They have enough Bible doctrine to be relaxed around people. If believers are going to have impact for Christ they must be totally relaxed in any situation. This relaxation removes prejudice, and any mental attitude sins which are involved in prejudice, and will give a completely relaxed attitude in any situation that has to be faced. The significance of Peter and John’s prayer was that they had no prejudice. Receiving the Holy Spirit was potential as far as Peter and John were concerned. They did not realize the full impact of the Church Age.
For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The fact that the Holy Spirit had not fallen on them indicates that they were Old Testament saints in the same pattern as the disciples of John in Acts 19. In Acts chapters 8 and 19 we have a parallel phenomenon. In Acts 8 we have disciples (in the Old Testament sense) of Philip—they are born again but are minus the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19 we have the disciples of John the Baptist, and they are minus the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In both cases they came into contact with apostles and they became New Testament saints. This was only done in the first century where there were Old Testament saints in various pockets, and Acts 19 tells us that if Old Testament saints lived long enough they were brought into the Church, the body of Christ. Here in chapter 8 we have the principle that Gentiles are just as much in the body of Christ as Jews, therefore there is a separate “Pentecost, the Samaritan Pentecost,” to demonstrate this.
Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Apparently there were thousands of believers and Peter and John laid their hands on each one of them, and as they did the baptism of the Holy Spirit took place, the same as occurred on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. Remember that God dealt with the newly formed Church differently in the first century of its existence than He did thereafter. It seems that God was making a clear point to the Jewish believers that did not have an exclusive right as Jews to be the only members of the body of Christ. God will continue to make this crystal clear to them all as recorded in the book of Acts.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” He doesn’t offer money to get the Holy Spirit; he offers money to have the power to give the Holy Spirit. Simon’s attack was the attack of religion on Christianity. He wants to make it a money-making proposition. He wants a franchise and to get back right where he was before, the number one man in Samaria. He was driven by approbation lust, power lust and materialism lust. Therefore he offered money for the franchise in the local area. Money cannot purchase salvation or any spiritual blessing.
But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. He wanted the same ability and power that Peter and John had. He wanted to make a business of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit’s ministry cannot be bought or sold. Therefore Peter rebuked him in verses 20-23. It was a future warning that if Simon continued he will be dead very shortly—the sin unto death.
Repent means to change your mind; he needed to realize that what he was doing was sinful. Apparently Simon hadn’t given it a thought that this was sin, and therefore the word “repent” before “pray.” His prayer would have needed to be to confess his sin, but he can’t even confess it unless he changes his mind and recognizes the sin. The wickedness here is the mental attitude sin. The intention of your heart may be forgiven you is a first class condition indicating that it would be forgiven on the basis of confession of sin. (I John 1:9)
For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity. Bitterness is the mental attitude of frustration. Here was a “great” unbeliever who was now not a believer but not a great one, and so far he hadn’t seen any way to become a great believer until he saw the distribution of the Holy Spirit. And he wanted this; he wanted to become great as a believer. But like so many believers who want to become great they always pick a short-cut that by-passes doctrine. He goes back to human viewpoint—“I can buy it.” Purchase by any means including good works, etc. Therefore he was a very miserable person, a slave to his sin. His sin was a mental attitude type. Mental attitude sins always make the individual involved miserable.
Simon’s change of attitude, but he didn’t follow instructions. As far as we know Simon never became a great believer. He failed to rebound, he failed to get into fellowship, and he simply asked the apostles to pray for him. He failed to realize that every person must live his own Christian life. Simon had to pray for himself. The person who will not rebound for himself will never make it in the Christian life.
One of the sins of the flesh (the sin nature) listed in Galatians 5:20 is witchcraft. The Greek word for witchcraft is “pharmakia” meaning the use of medicine, drugs and spells. The same word is used in Greek for sorcery. The Greek word for sorcerer is “magos” referring to a magician or a wizard. For soothsaying the Greek word “manteuomai” is used and refers to the practice of divination (fortune telling). All of these practices were closely related to demonism throughout the Bible and therefore condemned by God.
We have both New and Old Testament examples of these practices. We have references in Daniel 2:2-10; Exodus 7:11,22; 8:7,18; Isaiah 8:1947:9,12; Acts 8:9-24; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21; 18:23. It is not difficult to tell from reading these passages that Satan and his demons are behind these evil practices. Those who are involved in these practices are either demon possessed or demon influenced. In either case they are being used by Satan to deceive and confuse people.
Demons are fallen angels who followed Satan when he rebelled against God in eternity past. Demons are not given actual names in Scripture, but they are very organized and active. They deceive unbelievers and believers alike, they perform miracles, they inflict bodily disease, they inflict mental illness, they war against God and His elect angels and they possess unbelievers (demons cannot possess a believer). Demons have even indwelt animals. Demons have been used to discipline believers. (Ephesians 6:12; Romans 8:38-39; Revelation 13:14, 16:14, 19:20; I Timothy 4:1; I Corinthians 10:20-21; II Corinthians 12:7; Luke 4:35, 8:36, 13:16; Matthew 4:24, 8:28, 12:22; Mark 5:5-15; I John 4:4)
Demonism was considered a crime by God and was to receive capital punishment, according to Leviticus 20:27. The punishment for demon possession was stoning. Demons can possess male and female, but never against their will. Therefore, Satan and his demons seek out willing victims. Idol worship can be a form of demonism and people who are involved in idol worship are prime candidates for demon possession. (I Corinthians 10:14-21)
Drug addiction can be a form of demonism. A person who is addicted to drugs is in a weakened state of mind and open to demon possession. (Galatians 5:20) Perverted sexual activities can be a result of demon possession. (Mark 16:9) Demon possessed persons are often heads of nations. (Deuteronomy 18:10-15; Isaiah 19:1-3)
Necromancy is a form of divination - the practice of attempting to contact the dead. Demons are often involved in this practice. Demons have actually spoken in audible voices in the past. This is of course a trick Satan uses to make gullible people believe they are hearing from their loved ones who have died. It is impossible to contact the dead and the dead are not watching us. Attempting to contact the dead is expressly forbidden in the Bible. (Leviticus 19:31, 20:6,27; Deuteronomy 18:9-12; II Kings 23:24)
Fallen angels are demons, but are not given actual names in Scripture expect for Satan. However, they are very organized and active. As we’ve seen, they deceive unbelievers and believers alike, they perform miracles, they inflict bodily disease, etc. (Ephesians 6:12; Romans 8:38-39; Revelation 13:14, 16:14, 19:20; I Timothy 4:1; I Corinthians 10:20-21; Luke 8:36, 13:16; Matthew 4:24)
Believers in Christ are involved in spiritual warfare as a result of Satan’s appeal. It is by trusting Christ as Savior and executing His plan for our lives that we can become credible witnesses for the prosecution. We have studied that angels are observing us and when one person comes to know Christ as Savior the elect angels rejoice. Why? They rejoice because another victory for Christ has been won and it is additional proof that God is fair and just in His dealings, not only with mankind, but also with angels.
Before going to war, it is necessary to assess the enemy. What are his strategies, where is the battlefield, what is the size of his force, etc? You must also assess your capability. What kind of weapons do you have, should you be on the defensive or offensive, is your force superior to the enemy, etc? Our assessment is that God is the one who fights this spiritual warfare for us. We are unable in our own power and strength to wage war with Satan and his demon army.
But as always in the Christian life, we must exercise our volition. We must be the ones to put on the complete armor of God. So, how do we go to battle? We go with Bible doctrine resident in our souls and with God’s righteousness. We go with the knowledge that we are reconciled to God. We go using the faith-rest technique (mixing the promises of God with our faith) and the divine operating assets. We go using God’s Word for every battle in life and we go with a consistent prayer life for ourselves and for others. God’s battle plan is perfect. We just need to learn how to execute it!
In order to fight this spiritual battle, the believer must have supernatural power. This fight cannot be waged by human power. The soul must be armed with Bible doctrine circulating in the soul. Being equipped with God’s armor is the only possible way of gaining victory in this battle. Ephesians 6:13-18 outline the believer’s armor.
Truth - Greek “Aletheia”- Bible doctrine resident in the soul (defensive)
The breastplate of righteousness – Breastplate in Greek is “Thorax”- a two-part (front and back) body protector; righteousness in Greek is “Dikaiosune”- imputed righteousness from God; being right with God (defensive)
The Gospel of peace - Greek “Eirene”- the good news that brings peace (reconciliation) (defensive)
The shield of faith - Greek “Thureos”- large oblong object that protects the soldier’s entire body; the Faith-Rest Technique (defensive)
The helmet of salvation - Greek “Perikephalaia”- around the head; the entire salvation package (40 assets) received at salvation; we are secure in Christ, Satan cannot deal a fatal blow to the believer (defensive)
The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God – Sword in Greek is “Machaira”- a dagger; sharp on both sides; the Spirit is the Holy Spirit; the Word of God is the most powerful weapon we possess (offensive weapon)
Praying always - have a consistent prayer life
“with all prayer”- Greek “Proseuche”- any communication with God
“and petition”- Greek “Deesis”- a prayer for a specific need
“in the Spirit”- under the filling of the Holy Spirit
“and with this view”- Greek “Agrupneo”- expresses the idea of being intent on something; being alert
“with all perseverance”- Greek “Proskartereo”- to be steadfast; continued care
“and petition for all saints”- praying for the needs of others